Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Villeneuve denies turning down Lotus F1 chance
  • Senna unsure of F1 seat for 2011
  • FIA reveals more new rules for 2011
  • Team Lotus to replace reserve Fauzy with GP2 drivers
  • Hulkenberg made fewest mistakes in 2010, Kobayashi most
  • Schumacher's F1 return not a failure – Villeneuve
  • Engine supply move 'positive' for Renault – Prost
  • $150m F1 track proposed for Vietnam

Villeneuve denies turning down Lotus F1 chance
(GMM) Jacques Villeneuve has denied he threw away a good chance to return to formula one in 2011.

A French Canadian radio commentator had implied that the 1997 world champion was offered the IndyCar drive in Lotus colors this year and would then have progressed to F1 when the sports car marque announced its 2011 tie-up with Renault.

"That was never discussed," Villeneuve insisted, according to French language Rue Frontenac.

Late last year, the 39-year-old visited Lotus' Norfolk headquarters for talks with his friend Gino Rosato.

"There was never any discussion of F1," Villeneuve said.

"Everyone knows how hard I worked on my return to F1. If the only thing I needed to do was spend a year in IndyCar, I would have done it!

"The truth is that F1 only came into the plans of Lotus Cars in the last few months," he explained.

Rosato, who for a long time worked in F1 with Ferrari before moving to Lotus as vice-president of corporate affairs, backed Villeneuve's story.

"F1 was not in our plans when I spoke to Jacques about IndyCar," he said. "I would have loved for him to race with us. In my head, Villeneuve and Lotus was a natural fit but the planets were not aligned."

Villeneuve agreed: "It's true that we talked about IndyCar, but Takuma Sato had already been hired as their first driver and I was asked to bring some of the budget that my partners at the time wanted to invest for F1.

"It was not an option," he clarified. "And IndyCar and the Indy 500 — I've already done that. And that was before the separation, when the series was more competitive.

"If I have to bring a budget, it will be for a new challenge like NASCAR, not to go back to something I have already ticked off and achieved," added Villeneuve.

Senna unsure of F1 seat for 2011
(GMM) With less than 90 days until the 2011 season kicks off, Bruno Senna has admitted he is not sure he will be in Bahrain.

The great Ayrton Senna's nephew had a difficult debut season in formula one with the uncompetitive new Spanish team HRT.

It had been reported Senna had a chance of moving on for 2011 to the more promising Team Lotus outfit, but Brazil's Globo Esporte said the 27-year-old "came close to signing but the negotiations failed".

Asked in Sao Paulo on Monday about his prospects for 2011, he answered: "There is nothing definite.

"I am still negotiating but it is not easy to find a free seat."

When asked what teams he is negotiating with, Senna added: "Those with free seats."

HRT, Renault, Virgin and Force India all have seats whose occupants have not been officially announced for next season.

Senna admits that HRT was not the ideal place to prove his talents this year.

"The season was difficult and I was unable to demonstrate what I can do," he confirmed.

FIA reveals more new rules for 2011
(GMM) Team mechanics in 2011 will be barred from working all night on formula one cars before practice days.

The new rule emerged as, late on Monday, the FIA published the full sporting and technical regulations for next season.

The mechanics curfew will apply to team personnel "associated in any way with the operation of the cars" between midnight to 6am when practice is due to start at 10am, or 1am to 7am if practice is scheduled for 11am.

"However, each team will be permitted four individual exceptions to the above during a championship season," the FIA said.

Another new rule for 2011 relates to driving standards, probably inspired by Michael Schumacher's controversial move on Rubens Barrichello in Hungary this year.

"Maneuvers liable to hinder other drivers, such as more than one change of direction to defend a position, deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are not permitted," said the FIA.

Stewards also have new powers to penalize drivers, including by imposing a one-race ban.

The one-gearbox-per-four-races rule has been toughened to five races in 2011, with one penalty-free gearbox change per driver allowed.

Meanwhile, the race director has been given the power to close the pit entry during races "for safety reasons".

Team Lotus to replace reserve Fauzy with GP2 drivers
(GMM) Team Lotus will use its new GP2 team to replace ousted 2010 reserve and 'Friday' driver Fairuz Fauzy next season.

Malaysian Fauzy had signed a long-term contract with the Tony Fernandes-run outfit but was dropped "prematurely" and "without reason" after a single year, the driver's management has confirmed.

His successor will be selected from the drivers appointed to race with Fernandes' new AirAsia GP2 team in 2011, a team spokesman told the Reuters news agency.

"There will be two guys who will be given that opportunity to bridge the gap (between GP2 and F1)," he said.

Hulkenberg made fewest mistakes in 2010, Kobayashi most
(GMM) Despite now searching for a 2011 employer, promising rookie Nico Hulkenberg made fewer mistakes than any of his competitors this year.

That is according to an analysis by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, which found that – at the other end of the scale – his fellow rookie Kamui Kobayashi had the most spins, off-track moments and crashes in 2010.

Although named F1's rookie of the year in a recent awards ceremony, Japanese Kobayashi committed no fewer than 60 recordable errors this year, the analysis found.

But in all the practice and qualifying sessions and the races themselves, 23-year-old Hulkenberg only had two incidents in which his car was damaged or he was unable to return to the pits.

2009 Brawn teammates Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, both now with different teams, ranked in second place.

"I don't know if that's a compliment," smiled former reigning world champion Button. "Maybe it means I didn't risk enough."

Title contenders Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber each made 30 mistakes, and world champion Sebastian Vettel's 34 excursions ranked him 13th overall.

Lewis Hamilton also had a lot of incidents this year, as did Vitaly Petrov and Michael Schumacher, with the seven time world champion ranking just 18th on his difficult return to F1.

The most error-prone this season was Kobayashi, but he insists the stereotype as a "kamikaze" driver is not right.

"If I was a kamikaze driver, I would not have got this far," the 24-year-old, who has been retained by Sauber for 2011, told recently.

Peter Sauber added: "It would be doing him an injustice to only focus on this aspect of his driving. Kamui is also a very clever driver and understands how to put a pre-defined strategy into action."

Schumacher's F1 return not a failure – Villeneuve
(GMM) It is not right to say Michael Schumacher's return to formula one this year was a failure, his former championship rival Jacques Villeneuve insists.

The seven time world champion struggled with the Mercedes car alongside Nico Rosberg in 2010, but Villeneuve thinks Schumacher ultimately had the edge on his younger teammate.

"It was difficult for him until mid-season but by the end he was ahead of his teammate," the French Canadian told French language

Villeneuve, who beat Schumacher to the 1997 title, also thinks F1 fans have a rosy recollection of the great Schumacher.

"At Ferrari, he was one or two tenths ahead of his teammate but rarely more," said the 39-year-old.

"Everyone thought he was going to be a second ahead of Rosberg, but it was never even like that in the past."

Villeneuve also wanted to come back to F1 this year and he said he acknowledges the enormity of the challenge.

"It's difficult," he said. "I was away for six months (in 2004) and physically it was tough, and then you're getting your bearings. The last tenth is hard to get back."

Villeneuve also backs Schumacher's claim that the 2010 Mercedes car was a main reason for his results this year.

"If the car didn't suit him then that's hard to resolve," he said, "but at the end of the season he was there."

In a new interview with CNN, Schumacher was asked whether he is risking his reputation by pushing ahead with an unsuccessful return to F1.

"I enjoy it. I feel I have the right to do what I enjoy. Whether I put in dispute my reputation … I just feel good about my decision and I have so much support from people," said the German.

Engine supply move 'positive' for Renault – Prost
(GMM) Although lamenting France's dwindling involvement in F1, Alain Prost believes Renault's decision to be only an engine supplier from 2011 is not a bad one.

Although it still bears the French carmaker's name, Renault no longer owns any of the Enstone based team following the buy-in deal involving Group Lotus.

Instead, Renault has launched Renault Sport F1, to supply engines to the two Lotus teams as well as Red Bull.

"As the owner of a team it's always a bit complicated because you have to manage many things at once," said quadruple world champion Prost to

The famous Frenchman said a lack of results is also difficult for a manufacturer in F1.

"With just the engine (supply), you can always offload your responsibilities to the chassis, especially since the latter is the most important for the performance in F1.

"There is always a little war between the car side and the engine side. But if you're doing the chassis and the engine, it's always more difficult when you lose," added Prost.

It is believed that Renault Sport F1 intends to develop a 1.6 liter four-cylinder engine for the beginning of the new turbo era in 2013.

"For a manufacturer like Renault, it (the new formula) is a big plus.

"In terms of technology, F1 is going to be closer to what is happening in road cars, including the reduction in engine size – which is called downsizing – with turbocharging.

"It's an aspect that is very positive for Renault," Prost said.

$150m F1 track proposed for Vietnam
(GMM) Vietnam could be the next country vying to join the ever-growing formula one calendar.

Hans Geist, linked in the past with F1 forays in Russia, Austria and Bahrain, has proposed a $150 million project to Vietnam's ministry of planning and investment.

The proposal is for a formula one circuit to be located near Nha Trang Bay in central Khanh Hoa province, according to

"The dynamic economy of Vietnam and tourism potential are good reasons for building a circuit here," said Geist.

He did not say when the proposal would move forwards but construction would take three years.

"Formula one … will guarantee a professional business communication for Vietnam and its international recognition. It will certainly stimulate Vietnam's economy, tourism and infrastructure," added Geist.

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